September 10th, 2007 – by: Belluomo
Yurimaguas looked a lot better in the daylight. I discovered that there was a lot more to the town than what I had seen in the limited light of the night before, and that being a quiet Sunday night as well. Down at the port they didn’t have any information about the boat I wanted to take, even though it was the main one for the route down the river to Iquitos
. It’s not the first time that my Lonely Planet was seriously out of date with information. I found the office and they told me there were no places left on the boat that was to leave at noon. In typical Peruvian fashion, with a smile and persistence I was told by the secretary to go back to the port to the boat and to speak with the captain.
Eduardo V, our home for 2 days
When I got there I was quickly offered help by zealous locals wanting to earn a few soles as a tip for their services. Of course there was a bunk available and I had a little over an hour to get back to the center and get my stuff and buy provisions for the two day trip. A willing mototaxi driver ferried me around to various shops in the market to pick up a hammock, a pair of shorts, batteries, some sandwiches and fruit for lunch, copious amounts of bottled water, a bottle of rum and a large 3 liter of cola. With everything in tow, I got back to the Eduardo V with fifteen minutes to spare, only, again in Peruvian fashion, to wait for two more hours until the boat finally left. There were plenty of diversions in the meantime. The upper deck passengers were congregating in the common area where the hammocks were slung and a Bruce Lee tribute video was playing on the tv.
I met a nice lady and her cute little daughter and then a couple Americans when the lady asked in Spanish where the pair were from and I heard “Ohio.” I was sitting right next to them and I said, “Oh really, I’m from Ohio. Where?” “Cleveland.” “I’m from Broadview Heights!” “I’m from Berea!” Her name was Stella and I noticed that on the clipboard I was asked to fill out when I came on board there was a Stella listed above me. I talked with her and her traveling companion Austin for awhile and then the talk came back around to Cleveland when I told them I had quit my job managing a wine bar. She asked which one and I said Royal Vine. “I was there once!” she exclaimed, and then I realized in a flash that not only did I remember her, but I remembered in vivid detail her visit to Royal Vine a year ago in the summer with her friend and her friend’s brother.
View back to Yurimaguas
They sat at the first couch and had three flights of wine and then shared a glass of cabernet from the flight. I remembered asking her if she were Turkish and she was amazed that I asked that because her grandfather was Turkish. Stella has dark hair and large dark eyes and had a sweet softness in her manner that I remembered. I hoped she would come back to the wine bar because she made a big impression on me and from time to time I thought about her but she never came back. Now I see her again, many thousands of miles away on a boat plying the Peruvian Amazon waters. It’s amazing all these coincidences. I shouldn’t wonder, it seems to happen to me so much. I told Austin that I had wanted to ask her out on a date that night but I didn’t and regretted it and he said that it was fated to meet her where we would be on a boat for two days, so in the end I got my date! We talked about Baldwin Wallace and about music.
Sand beaches too!
She plays the violin and I brought out the violin that I had bought in Iquitos and her skill was markedly superior to mine. Her mother plays cello and I mentioned my sister Julie studying with a piano teacher at BW. So we had a lot to talk about and I enjoyed the happy coincidence that brought us to the same place at the same time by serendipity. It was a good omen for the journey.
Our company on the upper deck included a high school boys and girls basketball team from Iquitos that had been playing in Yurimaguas
for the championship, a pair of guys from Isreal, and another American. After a surprisingly tasty dinner of lomo saltado (strips of beef sauted with onions and tomato) and rice, the Israelis broke out a hookah pipe and I offered rum and cokes all around.
Stella and I played the violin and then the Israelis put on their iPod. Later we watched the vivid stars and marveled at the zig zag route the boat was making down the river. There must have been a reason for aiming at one bank and then correcting course and heading for the other but we couldn’t figure it out. As long as we didn’t go aground we would be happy. Austin and I talked to the bursar of the boat, a very friendly lady from Pucallpa
. The one American had said that she asked him, “Are you looking for trouble?” in a coquettish way when he boarded and I said that she was extremely friendly to me too so we were all wondering what her true motive might have been.
After talking to her for awhile we determined that it was harmless and that she was just very friendly and nothing more.